Ask the Passengers

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Teens and adults drink at a nightclub. Parents need to know that Ask the Passengers is a contemporary coming-of-age novel by award-winning author A. The protagonist lives in a small town and is desperately afraid of how her developing feelings for another girl will affect her rumor-filled community.

There are quite a few discussions of sex -- orientation, virginity or lack thereof -- as well as several heavy make-out scenes that go just shy of the all the way. The language is strong: "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," as well as gay slurs such as "fag" and "dyke. Add your rating See all 1 parent review. Add your rating See all 5 kid reviews. In fact, she's in love with another girl and can't tell anyone about it.

Her mother is a Type-A workaholic who cares more about appearances than identity; her father is loving but usually too stoned to see what's happening; and her kid sister is a mommy's girl who fits in perfectly at school. Astrid's only friends are a popular couple on campus who are secretly gay. As Astrid starts to come to terms with her true self, it's clear that her love is being felt, however mysteriously, by the passengers in the sky -- even if life down below can be alternately isolating, thrilling, and confusing. Because why wouldn't love aimed directly at a specific passenger hit its target?

Throughout the novel, King breaks into Astrid's compelling story of self-discovery with vignettes from the airplane passengers affected by her earthbound love. Those stories, like Astrid's, are at times funny, sad, romantic and life-changing. It's heartbreaking to see how stifling and narrow-minded Unity Valley is, and even more disturbing to read about how selfish and unconcerned Mrs. Jones is toward Astrid -- as if a kid can be summarily ignored if she isn't reflecting your carefully honed image as a parent.

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  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
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Astrid is a remarkable protagonist. She uses her directed love at those around her, all the time -- even people so unworthy of her love. It's her superpower. A smart, questioning girl who loves learning about philosophy and existence, Astrid uses the teachings of Zeno, Socrates, and Plato to help her discover that whether she's straight, bi, gay, or celibate, she is who she is, not who others even the girl she loves want her to be -- and there's something glorious in that revelation.

Families can talk about tolerance and bullying.

Reader Reviews

How realistic is the Unity Valley High population's response to the news there are gay students in their midst? Is the bullying realistic?


What's the book's message about realizing you're gay? Should Astrid have handled the issue differently -- said something sooner to please her best friends? How are Astrid's parents atypical? Is it realistic that her mother would so brazenly prefer her sister?

Ask the Passengers (Paperback)

What about her father's recreational drug use? Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners. See how we rate. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

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Learn how we rate. See our cookie policy Accept cookies. Parents' Ultimate Guide to But Astrid is not unlike every other teenage girl—she has her own life, one that produces questions and thoughts. A life where she cleans shrimp and kisses Dee in the freezer at her weekend job. Where Kristina and her supposed boyfriend are both closeted, a secret Astrid has kept for years.

A life that has become too big and complicated to categorize or put in a box. King takes the skeletal components of a young adult lesbian coming-out novel and applies metaphysical, philosophical, psychological, sociological and existential layers that infuse the flesh with outstanding writing. The reader feels something for the protagonist and simply wants to know more.

In less than fifty pages, Unity Valley is revealed as a key character.

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However, there are far more questions raised for the characters than there are answers—that in itself is reflective of being a young adulthood. Ask the Passengers forces readers to look beyond the twenty-two minute happily-ever-after media representations of being a teen, plunging them into a reality that begs the question: What does this all mean and how will I ever figure it out?

Therefore, the thematic focus is diffused, resulting in a slower-paced literary narrative that may discomfit some readers. Astrid knows there are plenty of secrets in Unity Valley, her supposedly perfect suburban town, starting with the one she can barely admit to herself. My favorite parts of this book were about people who weren't even major characters in the book -- the random passengers and their stories. Those passages were comparable to Lucky's dreams and the left behind physical evidence in "Everybody Sees the Ants".

Astrid and her family are a hot mess and it is no wonder she is so confused. Any teen in that type of home situation is going to need to find love elsewhere and be conflicted about what form that love should take.

I know how Astrid Jones feels. In fact I'm pretty sure a lot of people know how Astrid Jones feels. This is a testament to the expert writing skills of the author A. King because she is able to articulate the feelings a person has as they are coming to grips with understanding a crucial turning point in their lives. I really enjoyed how A. King made Astrid relatable and most importantly human.

Teens - Ask the Passengers - Washington Anytime Library - OverDrive

In a conversation with a friend I referred to A. Astrid and her family moved to small-town Pennsylvania from New York. In small worlds gossip dominates and reputations are important and fragile, so Astrid and the secrets she keeps on her own and on behalf of others make a difference. King there are also these interludes. Astrid sends love to people flying overhead in planes and we get to read tiny fragments from some of those lives. In the end the world does not all come together and sing kumbayah, but King does a great job working within small resolutions and the fact that things can change, incrementally but really, is a big part of what makes her books so good.

Quite frankly, if you have any interest in contemporary YA literature, you should read this story of Astrid and philosophy and love. As a queer teen, when I first started reading this I was really excited. But truth be told, in my opinion the best part of this book is how she sends her love to people she doesn't know. I cannot stand the relationship she has with the girl she likes as it feels very forced to me, I see it as a "you're gay, and I'm gay but other than that we have zero chemistry" and that is not what I want as someone who wants more lesbian stories.

I really liked this book.

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It shows how some people react to unfamiliar situations. And just because the book takes place in Small Town, USA doesn't mean that it's not taking place in bigger cities. I liked how the main character in this book doesn't want to be "cut with a cookie cutter".

She wants to live in a world where people can be themselves. All I have to say is keep on loving yourself and rock on. I felt like I knew the character and understood her as well as the people around her :. This book was great! It was so engrossing, and I swept through it in less than a day.